By Chris Jenkins (@ByChrisJenkins)
Doubt Mesut Özil at your own peril.
It’s become fashionable over the past few weeks to pick Özil apart, based on his recent string of uninspired performances and, most notably, having a penalty saved in the Champions League first leg match against Bayern.
Players mess up penalties all the time, of course, but this particular effort admittedly looked like it came from a player who lacked confidence. That moment fed a media narrative that already had been simmering – that Özil, the 42 million pound signing whose arrival was supposed to signal the start of a new era at Arsenal, is a disappointment.
Never mind that he’s fourth in the Premier League in assists, or fifth in key passes according to Squawka. Or that it was foolish from the start to expect him to have a seamless transition to a new team, league and country.
The questions aren’t just coming from reactionary media members and emotionally charged fans. This week, German national team coach Joachim Löw hinted that Özil could be left out of the World Cup squad – an obvious set of mind games meant to motivate, as there’s almost no chance he’d actually not go to Brazil. Özil responded exactly as his national team coach might have been hoping, providing an impressive assist in a 1-0 friendly win over Chile.
Things got worse after Tuesday’s 1-1 tie at Bayern that knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League; Özil was subbed off at halftime, an irresistible story line that would end up dominating the headlines. (Trust a former sportswriter: facing a demanding deadline at a night game, any juicy development that happens in the first half is more likely to become “the” story.) We found out after the match that Özil had sustained a significant hamstring injury, but it was too late. The “Özil is struggling” narrative lives on.
So here are a few reasons you might just want to cut the guy a break for now:
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By Nick Lellenberg (@HomeatHighbury)
After missing the boat last year on the fact that staff at my school receive Monday off after a quarter ends, I told myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again. So after looking at places I could go for a three day weekend for reasonable airfare and time from San Diego, I landed on Austin. I’d been thinking about it for a while — a good friend had moved there about a year ago—and once I realized that Arsenal played Norwich City that Saturday, it was a no brainer. I had to go visit the Austin Gooners. And I was determined to make it like one of my great European away trips. Watch Arsenal (granted on tv) with other Gooners and also explore a new city.
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Philly Gooners at Misconduct Tavern
Editors Note: From time to time we see ideas and events from other supporters groups within Arsenal America and from afar. We’d like to highlight one of these event ideas from our friends in the Philly Gooners and would love to hear about and promote events your local group might line up for the future.
By George Sedgewick and Mike Hiddi, co-founders of The Philly Gooners
The Philly Gooners have had loyal members for a decade. We regularly fill Misconduct Tavern, singing, cheering, and happily enjoying sincere camaraderie. This weekend’s match vs. Liverpool, however, marks an opportunity for Philly Gooners to introduce friends and family to the group! Normally, we have a special room for Gooners only. This time, feel free to bring your football-curious friends, family members, or co-workers to see what being a Philly Gooner is all about. We’ll have standing room for many fans, tables and chairs available for families or those needing a place to put their beers and snacks. We’re catering especially to families with children—we have several such groups already—as well as football friends who are on the fence! Bring them to Misconduct on Saturday for the 1:30 kickoff to take part in singing, match-viewing, dining, and a real supporters club experience. For more info, contact us by emailing email@example.com, following us on Twitter @ArsenalPhilly, or joining our Philly Gooners group on Facebook.